Essay about Human Behavior And Human Rights

Essay about Human Behavior And Human Rights

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Professor Philip G. Zimbardo’s (1971) Stanford Prison Experiment conducted at Stanford University, when examined, forces the examiner to explore and critically think about human behavior and human rights, the effects that the prison environment has on people, the weight of good versus evil, and the blurred lines between reality and illusion, and the ethical responsibility of laymen and experts. This 2 week experiment focused on a group of male college students out of the Palo Alto, California area who responded to a local newspaper ad that sought individuals who wanted to be a part of a study of the mental and emotional impact of prison life on both sides of the bars. Under the direct consultation of a former prisoner and some of his associates from his past prison life and others such as several other researchers, a warden, and a chaplain, Zimbardo’s experiment rendered findings that only raised further questions, and I will attempt to objectively and subjectively address some of those questions.
Initially, 70 people answered the ad, but through diagnostic interviews and personality testing, based on their mental and overall health as well as their criminal history, only 24 volunteers survived the process of elimination. Once given informed consent, a simple coin toss was used as a form of random selection to then separate the participants into 2 distinct groups of 9. One group was assigned to the roll of prison guard, and the other to the roll of prisoner. The remaining individuals were put on stand-by. However, during the interview process, the participants were asked which roll they wanted to be assigned to, but their preferences had no bearing on the end result of the coin toss.
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...’s uncontrollable rage was a sign that the experiment was causing some emotional damage far beyond what any experiment should, the guards who literally became more barbaric when they thought no one was watching, and finally, when interviewer Christina Maslach seriously questioned the morality of the study. The text states, “Experimental Research is the most powerful research because it allows the experimenter to manipulate and control the variable, thereby determining cause and effect” (Carpenter and Huffman, 2008, p.15). When experts do not follow the ethical guidelines established by the American Psychological Association, and exercise common sense and moral virtue, research participants can be damaged beyond repair and no research study should cause more harm than good. Good ethics in research should always be the baseline for both students and researchers.

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